Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Paul Bowles limited editions from the Black Sparrow Press

This week's post comes a little late on account of Monday's holiday and a lot of stress at work. Monday was spent in Prospect Park with friends and an impromptu Volleyball match with the neighboring barbecue. At work, things are getting hectic as we prep our bookstore for the upcoming Book Expo and the various meetings BEA will come with.

I'd like to share two recent acquisitions from the Black Sparrow Press, which were a recent anniversary present from my girlfriend. Two limited edition books by Paul Bowles from 1977, one called Things Gone and Things Still Here, the other a translation of The Big Mirror by Mohammad Mrabet.

Things Gone and Things Still Here is a collection of short stories; this is number 205 of 250 signed and numbered copies signed by Bowles at the colophon. The Big Mirror is limited to 200 copies and signed by both Bowles and Mrabet, this is number 150/200. I've not read these yet (as we just picked them up last Sunday) but I couldn't wait to post them on the blog. I discovered Black Sparrow when I discovered Bukowski in 10th grade; I remember how exciting it was to find myself more interested in a publishing house as a whole as opposed to their authors individually. It's remarkable to be able to return to Black Sparrow as an adult and as a full-fledged collector. My purchase of Bukowski's Love is Dog From Hell all those years ago may very well have been the carrier for whatever book-disease I've got.


We found these in my favorite used bookstore in Manhattan--Skyline Books on 18th Street, between 5th and 6th avenue. The owner has an incredible collection of rarities, all obviously hand-picked by a passionate collector. If you're in the area, I urge you to check it out.


  1. Black Sparrow did really splendid work in its prime. I used to stop in to the Gotham Book Mart and admire their Bowles collection, though the hardcovers were out of my price range. I picked up a copy of Things Gone and Things Still Here in paperback at the Strand, and it's always been one of my favorites of his.

    In the first edition of Sawyer-Lau├žanno's biography Bowles was quoted as saying John Martin had never paid him for his any of his editions of his work, but I think that remark was quietly dropped in the paperback edition. It may have been one of the reasons Bowles strongly objected to the bio.

    Black Sparrow used to issue a series of pamphlets, numbered Sparrow 1 etc., featuring short excerpts from their authors. Again the Gotham had a stack of these but I never got around to buying any of them.

    Best wishes.

  2. Hi Chris, thanks so much for your comments-- you actually inspired a future post on the Sparrow chapbooks! I went home to the fam this past weekend and snapped some photos of my stack of Sparrows that I was keeping there. Got a few by Antonin Artaud, very curious pieces...!